We have a lot of valuable files on our computers! Family photos, videos from our summer vacation, and in some cases business documents. As a freelance graphic designer, I have client work that I can’t lose so it is necessary to have a good backup strategy.

I have experienced hard drive failure–several times. All is not lost if you have backed up your data. If you have not, there is still a good chance someone can get your files off your computer for you at a reasonable price.

The best way to backup your important files is to approach the problem from several angles.

1. Use the Cloud

Cloud storage is cheap and you can access your files from anywhere. You can also keep files on your local hard drive so you can access them if you lose your connection. Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive are great options.

2. Start a Local Backup

Buy an external hard drive with at least twice the capacity of your current files. Connect this to your computer with a USB cable and copy the files you want to backup to it. You can sync your backup automatically or manually backup every month or so.

3. Have a Backup Computer

This is really a great way to keep your downtown to a minimum. With a backup computer loaded with the programs you need and ready to go, your downtime may only be a few minutes if something happens to your regular computer.

This post was originally published in February 2011. It has been updated for relevancy and accuracy.